North Coast Solar Stocks

December 10, 2009

Akeena to sell solar panels at retailer Lowe’s

Filed under: AKNS, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:59 pm

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:59pm EST

* All-in-one panels to sell at 21 Lowe’s stores for $893

* Part of company’s strategy to boost revenue

* Akeena shares close up 56 cents, or about 57 pct

By Laura Isensee

LOS ANGELES, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Akeena Solar Inc (AKNS) will start selling its all-in-one solar panels at Lowe’s Cos Inc (LOW) retail stores in California, Akeena said on Thursday, as the company looks to boost revenue.

The Los Gatos, California, company hopes to break even by selling panels at retail stores and to installers outside its home state, in addition to its traditional installation business. The move puts the company in competition with the likes of SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) in selling panels.

“The key for us to get to the break-even level is to work on top-line revenue … This Lowe’s distribution gives us another channel where we can build that top line,” Akeena’s chief executive, Barry Cinnamon, said in an interview.

Cinnamon declined to say when Akeena expects to break even or how much revenue is expected from the new retail sales. But the executive said that Akeena expects a 15 percent gross margin on panels sold through Lowe’s.

Akeena’s panels hit the shelves on Thursday at 21 Lowe’s home-improvement stores in California. Each panel will sell for $893 and can plug into a regular electrical outlet, generating 175 watts or enough electricity to power a computer or 42-inch flat screen television.

The panel’s price falls to $625 after federal tax credits and could drop more depending on state incentives.

“The biggest significance is that now people can buy one panel or three or four panels (and spend) a few thousand dollars as opposed to tens of thousands of dollars,” Cinnamon said.

In October, the executive told Reuters the company was actively trying to sell its solar panels through big-box retailers.

The company says its panels — branded Andalay and manufactured by Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) — have 80 percent fewer parts to install than comparable products, reducing inventory logistics.

The panels include inverters — supplied by privately held Enphase Energy — that convert the direct electrical current to the alternating current used by household appliances.

Akeena has struggled to turn a profit and posted a narrower-then-expected quarterly loss in October.

The news sent the shares of the solar company soaring on Thursday. Shares of Akeena closed up 56 cents, or about 57 percent, at $1.55 each on the Nasdaq.

The company’s shares have climbed 167 percent since hitting a year-low of 58 cents in March.

Shares of Lowe’s Cos closed up 1.23 percent at $23.09 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee; editing by Andre Grenon and Steve Orlofsky)

December 9, 2009

Mendocino College Dedicates SunPower Solar Power System

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

$14.9 Million in Cost Savings Expected Over Next 25 Years

8:00 am EST, Wednesday December 9, 2009

UKIAH, Calif., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Mendocino College, Bank of America (BAC) and SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced the completion of a 929-kilowatt solar power system on the college’s Ukiah campus. The system was financed by Bank of America and is expected to save the college $14.9 million in electricity costs over the next 25 years due in large part to the use of SunPower’s advanced sun-tracking technology.

“It makes sense to use the clean, renewable resource of the sun to power our schools sustainably,” said Mendocino College’s Director of Facilities Planning Mike Adams. “SunPower’s high-efficiency technology is maximizing the amount of sunlight that is converted to electricity for our operations and the cost savings that we will achieve as a result.”

Constructed in four months, the system utilizes SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels on the market, with the SunPower Tracker® system. The Tracker follows the sun’s movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.

“Colleges and universities in California are seizing the opportunity to help the state meet its growing energy demand and renewable energy goals,” said Bill Kelly, managing director, at SunPower. “Mendocino College understands the significant return on investment that SunPower systems deliver, and the added value of working with an experienced partner.”

According to conversion formulas provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the solar system at Mendocino College is expected to displace more than 55 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to the emissions displaced from removing more than 4,500 cars from California’s roads. Mendocino College owns the renewable energy credits and all environmental attributes associated with the system.

SunPower has more than 550 solar power systems in operation or under contract globally. The company has built other solar power systems for California community colleges including Napa Valley College, Ohlone College, the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, and the Los Angeles Community College District.

(more…)

December 7, 2009

Solar ETFs Rally As Climate Talks Start

Filed under: FSLR, JASO, KWT, SPWR, STP, TAN, TSL — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 6:48 pm

By Trang Ho
6:48 pm EST, Monday December 7, 2009

Solar energy stocks led the market higher Monday on several analyst upgrades. In addition, the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, kicked off and the Environmental Protection Agency reported greenhouse gases are endangering people’s health and must be regulated.

Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy (TAN) rose 3% to 10.07 in a little less than average volume. Shares broke above their 50-day moving average last week in scant volume.

The ETF has traded in a price channel between 8 and 11 for the past seven months. It has returned 27% year to date vs. 22% for the S&P 500. It carries Relative Strength and Accumulation/Distribution Ratings of 54 and B-.

Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT) surged 4.7% to 15.31 in higher than usual volume. Shares have traded in a sideways band between about 12 and 16 for the past six months.

KWT has gained 18% this year. Its 44 RS and B- Acc/Dis Ratings are technically weaker than TAN’s.

“If both TAN and KWT break out above the channels they are trading in, then expect them to move to the price level of the recent high,” said Tom Bulkowski, a technical analyst and founder of ThePatternSite.com. “That means TAN could run to 11.50 and KWT to 18.”

Industry Developments

Barclays Capital upgraded JA Solar Holdings (JASO), SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Suntech Power Holdings (STP) Monday to overweight from equal weight. The three companies popped 10% to 12% on the news.

Suntech Power said last week it won a 17-megawatt supply contract for 2010 from a Canadian firm. Its shares have spiked 68% year to date.

A top holding in both ETFs, First Solar (FSLR), added to last week’s gains and closed at 135.05 in average volume. The stock has been trending lower, forming lower lows and lower highs, since May. It trades below both its 200- and 50-day moving averages. It is flat for the year.

Shares rallied Thursday. They continued higher Friday after Collins Stewart upgraded the stock to buy from hold. Pricing pressures in the solar market eased in recent months and demand is beginning to pick up, analyst Dan Ries wrote in a client note. First Solar fared better than its competitors during the recession because its cadmium-telluride panels are cheaper to make than the silicon-based ones that dominate the market.

(more…)

Barclays ups Suntech, SunPower, JA Solar

Filed under: JASO, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:11 pm

Mon Dec 7, 2009 1:11pm EST

* Barclays analyst upgrades Suntech, SunPower, JA Solar

* Cites improving demand trends in the near term

* Shares of companies up between 7.5 and 9.6 pct

Dec 7 (Reuters) – Barclays Capital upgraded three solar companies, including Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP), and said it expects strong demand to continue into the first -half of 2010, and companies to report improving demand trends in the near term.

Analyst Vishal Shah who raised ratings on Suntech Power, SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB), JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd (JASO) to “overweight” from “equalweight,” said these three solar stocks were his top picks.

The news lifted shares of the solar companies sharply in trading on Monday.

The analyst upgraded Suntech Power, citing its potential for greater relative cost reduction, and raised his price target on the Chinese company’s stock to $20 from $15.

Shah said U.S. company SunPower’s current valuation is discounting the worst case scenario for 2010 earnings, and concerns over accounting irregularities may be overblown.

The analyst has a $35 price target on the solar panel maker.

On China’s JA Solar, Shah said he expects solar cell prices to stabilize and sees an upside to Street estimates resulting from better-than-expected shipments and cost reduction.

Shah raised his price target to $6 from $4 on JA Solar’s stock.

JA Solar shares were up 9.8 percent at $4.83, and SunPower Power shares were up 9.6 percent at $24.45 in trading on the Nasdaq, while those of Suntech were up 8.3 percent at $16.66 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Arundhati Ramanathan in Bangalore and Laura Isensee in Los Angeles; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy and Gerald E. McCormick)

Barclays Upgrades STP, SPWRA, JASO; Lifts 2010 Demand Forecast

Filed under: JASO, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 9:51 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Barclays Capital analyst Vishal Shah this morning raised his 2010 demand forecast for the solar sector, increasing his rating on Suntech (STP), SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and JA Solar (JASO), all to Overweight from Equal Weight.

Shah writes that he expects strong demand to continue into the first half of 2010, and expects companies to report improving trends in the near-term. “Although concerns about German subsidy cuts could remain a potential overhand on the sector … performance of solar stocks has recently lagged the broader market rally and as such expect continued positive sector momentum in the near-term,” he writes.

The Barclays analyst says demand in German, Italy, the U.S., China and Canada will drive positive fundamentals; he lifted his 2010 price forecast to $1.60/watt versus $1.50/watt previously. He upped his demand forecast for 2010 to 9.3 GW from 7.3 GW.

Shah thinks the demand environment in Germany will remain positive in the 2010 first half; he also expects a “rush to complete projects in the Italian market” ahead of changes in their feed-in-tariff program to drive strength in the second half. Shah adds that “gradual improvement in financing environment, further ASP declines, improvement in permitting constraints and positive impact of stimulus on U.S. [and] China demand could provide additional upside.”

Shah thinks Germany will cut subsidies by 5%-10%, but contends the resultant reduction in second half demand will be more than offset by additional demand in other major markets.

In today’s trading:

* STP is up 98 cents, or 6.4%, to $16.37.
* SPWRA is up $1.48, or 6.6%, to $23.79.
* JASO is up 33 cents, or 7.5%, to $4.73.

December 2, 2009

SunPower to pick site for U.S. plant by early 2010

Filed under: SPWR, STP, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 7:21 pm

Wed Dec 2, 2009 7:21pm EST

* SunPower to choose site by early 2010

* Co’s CEO says California, Arizona, Florida top choices

SAN JOSE, California, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Solar power company SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) is close to finalizing a site for its U.S. manufacturing plant and expects to make a decision by early 2010, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

California, Arizona and Florida are top contenders for the plant’s location, SunPower Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines at a gathering of Silicon Valley executives.

“We have not made a decision yet,” Werner said.

The San Jose, California-based company plans to make up to a quarter of its solar panels in the United States beginning in about a year and is seeking federal funds for the site.

Previously, Werner said that New Mexico and Texas were also on the list of possible locations.

SunPower and other solar panel makers expect U.S. demand for solar power to flourish in the coming years despite the recent financial crisis that has hampered development of renewable energy projects in the last year.

Chinese solar power heavyweight Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) recently picked Arizona as the site for its first U.S. panel assembly plant while Chinese panel maker Yingli Green Energy Holding Co (YGE) also plans to open a U.S. manufacturing site.

Shares of SunPower closed down 0.4 percent at $21.53 on Wednesday in Nasdaq trading.

(Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Writing by Laura Isensee; Editing by Christian Wiessner)

December 1, 2009

SunPower Gains On Pacific Crest Upgrade

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:56 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) shares are trading higher this morning after Pacific Crest analyst Mark Bachman lifted his rating on the stock to Outperform from Sector Perform.

Bachman says the recent “accounting debacle” at the solar company – SPWR found irregularities in the accounting practices of its unit in the Philippines – has provided “a unique buying opportunity.” While conceding that the accounting issue results in considerable risk, he adds that “the current stock price assumes a lower margin profile on future revenue, and thus the formal result from the investigation remains the primary headwind to investing in SunPower.”

He thinks the company can generate 20% gross margins going forward. Bachman says investors should look to 2011 revenue and earnings estimates to value SunPower, “as the stock is fully valued on 2010 estimates.” (Uh, can I just say that this seems like an odd approach to valuing stocks? Company you like looks too dear based on next year’s estimates? No worries. Just look out one more year, and the multiples shrink!)

Bachman lifted his 2010 EPS estimate to $1.44, from $1.31 (he’s still below the Street at $1.79), while introducing a 2011 estimate of $1.93.

SPWRA today is up $1.28, or 6.2%, to $21.95.

November 30, 2009

Sun Light & Power Wins SunPower ‘Intelegant Award for Excellence’ in Residential Solar System Installation

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:30 pm

4:30 pm EST, Monday November 30, 2009

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced that Sun Light & Power, a SunPower Premier Dealer, has won the prestigious SunPower ‘Intelegant Award for Excellence’ in residential solar-electric power system installation. The company received the award for its installation of a 4.05-kilowatt SunPower solar system on the San Mateo, Calif. home of D’Arcy Roche.

The SunPower Intelegant Award recognizes residential SunPower solar-electric power system installations that exemplify SunPower’s commitment to excellence in aesthetics, quality and performance. Award-winning installations are selected for the quality of the design and installation as well as homeowner satisfaction.

“Sun Light & Power has been installing solar systems for more than three decades and we’re thrilled that more and more homeowners are choosing to install solar systems to help power their homes,” said Gary Gerber, president and founder of Sun Light & Power. “Not only are we committed to delivering the highest level of products and services, we are experts in designing solar systems for challenging rooftops. SunPower’s high-efficiency solar panels help us to succeed with this goal and we are very proud to be this year’s recipient of the Intelegant Award.”

“My goal was to install a solar system that would equal or exceed my annual energy consumption measured in kilowatt hours,” said N. D’Arcy Roche, homeowner. “Sun Light & Power successfully designed and installed a solar-electric system for my tile roof that generates the highest energy yield with the fewest number of panels. Using SunPower’s high-efficiency all-black solar panels, the system has generated twice my summer electrical demand and I’m confident I will end the year as a net contributor to the grid. I’m very pleased with the appearance of the panels, too.”

There are more than 900 residential and small commercial solar installers in the SunPower global dealer network. Dealers are provided training in the installation of SunPower products, and work closely with the company to provide customers with superior levels of service.

About Sun Light & Power

Sun Light & Power was formed 33 years ago in Berkeley, Calif., by Gary Gerber as one of the first solar energy companies in California. With more than 1,000 solar installations in the Bay Area and a staff of 60 + employees, Sun Light & Power prides itself on its skilled engineering staff, which works with many technically-challenging projects. More information is available at: http://www.sunlightandpower.com or by calling: (510) 845-2997.

November 25, 2009

A Competitive Boost For Solar Energy

Filed under: FSLR, KYO, SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:43 pm

Christopher Helman, 11.25.09, 5:43 PM ET

HOUSTON – The dream of every green energy acolyte is that there will come a time when it is no stranger for homes to have solar panels than to have air conditioning units.

John Berger, chief executive of Standard Renewable Energy, thinks that in the next decade the U.S. could get well down the road to making that a reality.

Houston-based Standard Renewable got 75% of its $35 million in revenue this year from installing solar systems. Just 10 months ago it was buying solar panels from the likes of Kyocera (KYO), BP (BP), SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and First Solar (FSLR) for $4 per watt. Today, prices have plunged to $1.90 a watt.

It’s not for lack of demand. What’s brought prices down is a surge in worldwide manufacturing capacity. New plants have opened across China. Factories are even coming to the U.S.

As a result, insists Berger, solar power is starting to look affordable and even competitive with grid power. To the educated observer, this may sound implausible. But Berger says Standard has installed residential solar systems for as little as $4 per watt.

Berger’s bean counters have extrapolated that price for 31 metropolitan areas, factoring in average sunshine and cloud cover, applying the federal government’s 30% investment tax credit, and assuming that a homeowner can finance a system at the going mortgage rate of around 5%. Amortized over 20 years, the effective rate that a homeowner would pay for electricity in the New York metro area is 12.7 cents per kilowatt/hour. In Dallas it’s 11 cents/kwh, and in Las Vegas, just 9.3 cents.

The nationwide average residential electricity price is 12.05 cents, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Add in generous subsidies on municipal and state levels and in some green utopias like Austin, Texas, and Berkeley, Calif., and the cost goes even lower.

“In some locations,” says Berger, “solar could achieve grid parity next year.”

Yeah, we’re skeptical, too. Berger is, after all, trying to sell solar panels. But it’s nice to think that this could be possible. And the stars are aligning to make panels even cheaper. All this new panel production online is squeezing margins of big players like First Solar, whose shares have fallen 40% since May. Berger thinks that panel makers’ profit margins, now around 15%, will fade closer to 7% in the years to come–in line with the makers of other kinds of silicon-based chips.

The case for solar would also be helped by any carbon emissions legislation that might pass Congress some day. Carbon cap-and-trade would inevitably add costs to power generated from coal and natural gas. Utilities will try to pass costs onto ratepayers.

“The utilities are getting nervous. We provide a real opportunity for people to change where they get their electricity from,” says Berger.

One beauty of solar is that it is a distributed source of power generation–it can go anywhere that needs electricity and gets good sunlight. No need to build new transmission lines.

But don’t think solar will let you get off the grid entirely. The average home system that Standard Renewable installs is a 3.5 kw system that will produce, on average, 4,900 kwh of electricity a year, or less than a third of the average home’s electricity usage. It’ll cost roughly $14,000 installed. Payback period? If your utility charges, say, 13 cents per kwh, the system will pay for itself in 22 years.

Berger has expanded Standard beyond Texas to Oklahoma, New York, Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Georgia. Revenues have tripled in the past year and profitability is in sight, he says. He’s hired 130 new employees since July (green jobs!), bringing his total staff to 330.

Predictably, Berger says now’s the time to buy solar, as many state and local rebates will run out over the next year or so. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

November 19, 2009

SunPower Completes 1-Megawatt Solar Power System at Agilent Technologies Headquarters

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

Santa Clara Campus Installation Features SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile, the Solar Industry’s Most Powerful Rooftop System

8:00 am EST, Thursday November 19, 2009

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced the completion of a 1-megawatt solar power rooftop system on three buildings at Agilent’s headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. This is SunPower’s second project with Agilent, following the design and installation of a 1-megawatt solar tracking system at Agilent’s Santa Rosa, Calif., campus last year. Agilent expects to save $3.5 million in energy costs in the first 10 years of operation.

“Agilent is pleased to partner with SunPower on this second significant project, reinforcing our commitment to clean, renewable solar power and protecting the environment,” said Keith Morgan, Agilent director of environmental, health, safety and security. “Using high-efficiency solar technology maximizes the return on our investment and minimizes the environmental impact of our operations.”

The system features the SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tile, the solar industry’s first non-penetrating rooftop product that combines a high-efficiency SunPower solar panel, frame and mounting system into a single pre-engineered unit. Tilted at a five-degree angle, the T5 Roof Tile system approximately doubles the energy generated per square meter compared to systems that are mounted flat onto commercial rooftops.

“Combined with SunPower’s high-performance solar panels, the T5 Roof Tile will deliver more solar energy per square foot and greater energy savings than conventional systems,” said Bill Kelly, managing director at SunPower. “This is a real demonstration of Agilent’s commitment to sustainable practices, and will help the company maintain its position as an innovative business leader.”

According to conversion formulas provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Agilent’s solar system in Santa Clara is expected to displace more than 50 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to the emissions displaced from removing more than 4,200 cars from California’s highways. Agilent owns the renewable energy credits and all environmental attributes associated with the system.

Etrion and SunPower Partner on 4-Megawatt Italian Solar Power Plants

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 7:00 am

7:00 am EST, Thursday November 19, 2009

TORONTO, ONTARIO and SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA–(Marketwire – 11/19/09) – Etrion Corporation, a Canadian energy company, and SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB), a US-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced an agreement to build four solar power plants, totaling four megawatts, in the Puglia region of southern Italy. SunPower will design and construct the plants, and provide operations and maintenance services.

Etrion CEO Marco Northland commented, “Solar power generation will play an increasingly vital role in our efforts to build more renewable, clean energy sources. SunPower’s experienced approach to solar power plant design and construction will allow us to quickly and reliably complete these important projects.”

SunPower is installing proprietary SunPower� Tracker technology at the Italian sites. The Tracker follows the sun during the day and delivers up to 25 percent more energy than fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.

The Italian bank, Centrobanca, is providing 83 percent of the financing for the project, while an Etrion subsidiary is contributing 17 percent of anticipated project costs.

“SunPower offers a unique value proposition to power plant developers in terms of technology and bankability. Our proprietary Trackers optimize our clients’ return on investment while our solid balance sheet and rigorous contract guarantees give financial institutions confidence,” said SunPower European Sales Director Mario Riello. “We are very pleased to partner with Etrion to deliver clean, reliable solar power to the rapidly expanding Italian market.”

Construction of the first of the four projects is targeted to begin by the end of this month. The first electricity sales from the projects under the Italian feed-in-tariff regime are expected during the third quarter of 2010.

SunPower has more than 500 megawatts of solar power plants installed or under contract around the world, including Italian power plants such as the 24-megawatt Montalto di Castro plant and a 5-megawatt plant in Tolentino. SunPower’s Italian operations are located in Milan and Faenza.

About Etrion

Etrion Corporation is a Canadian energy company based in Geneva, Switzerland and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (ticker symbol “ETX”). Etrion is focused on developing, financing, building, owning and operating global electrical power plants based on renewable sources of energy, including solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and wind. For additional information, visit http://www.etrion.ch.

November 17, 2009

SunPower shares tumble after accounting errors

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 12:48 pm

Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:48pm EST

* Shares slide after accounting errors discovered

* Analysts cut recommendations on shares

NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) – The shares of solar power company SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) tumbled more than 18 percent on Tuesday after the company said it was investigating millions of dollars in accounting errors.

The company announced on Monday that its audit committee had launched the probe after an internal review found its Philippine operations had overstated expenses and understated costs.

It was not yet clear if the company would need to restate its 2009 quarterly reports or its 2008 annual report.

Analysts at Raymond James, FBR and Caris cut their recommendations on SunPower stock Tuesday morning.

“Any whiff of accounting impropriety is going to be looked at extremely negatively by the market,” Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said in an interview.

He noted the figure for the errors — $15 million — was not a huge number “in the grand scheme of things” and the news does not change SunPower’s fundamental business or contracts.

“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions, but the market has never been skittish about jumping to conclusions … Until the company can explain what the underlying problem is — what the cause is, who’s responsible — there will be an overhang on the stock. That’s the basis of our downgrade,” Molchanov said.

FBR Capital Markets analyst Mehdi Hosseini said in a note to clients that the accounting errors add “an additional layer of uncertainties” about the company’s cost structure.

Hosseini cut his price target for SunPower’s shares to $30 each from $38.

SunPower shares were down 18.2 percent at $22.28 in midday trading on Nasdaq after hitting $22.97 earlier in the session.

(Reporting by Matt Daily and Laura Isensee in Los Angeles, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Andre Grenon)

SunPower Crumbles; Multiple Downgrades On Accounting Mess

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 11:21 am

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) shares have cratered this morning after the company late yesterday disclosed an internal investigation of accounting practices at its Philippine operations, warning that it may have to restate results from 2008 and the first three quarters of 2009. In particular, the company said cost of goods sold appears to have been understated for the June and September quarters.

The disclosure has triggered a wave of mostly negative commentary from the Street, including a number of downgrades.

* Caris & Co. analyst Ben Pang cut his rating to Below Average from Average, with a new target of $21, down from $35. “We think the issue calls into question the profitability and earnings trends for the company and could also impact SPWRA’s ability to win certain contracts,” he writes in a note.
* Piper Jaffray analyst Jesse Pichel cut his rating to Neutral from Overweight, with a new target of $31, down from $38. Pichel notes that the stock has been moved to the “penalty box,” given the magnitude of the changes to cost of goods sold from the restructuring, and investor controversy over the company’s higher cost structure relative to Chinese solar companies. “We believe the stock will likely remain penalized until further information is disclosed.”
* FBR Capital analyst Mehdi Hosseini cut his rating to Market Perform, from Outperform. He says it is “prudent to move to the sidelines” until the company provides more details on the issue.
* Raymond James analyst Pavel Moldhanov cut his rating to Market Perform from Outperform. “The broader concern…is the very fact of accounting irregularities, however minor they may be,” he writes.

Meanwhile, analysts already bearish on the stock remain bearish.

* Bank of America/Merrill Lynch analyst Steven Milunovich repeated his Underperform rating. “The even raises questions regarding the containment of this particular issue and the strength of the company’s internal controls,” he writes.
* Pacific Crest analyst Mark Bachman likewise repeated his Underperform rating. “We remind investors that SunPower had to lower EPS guidance by 50 cents roughly one year ago due to accounting issues related to tax planning and foreign currency hedging,” he writes. “Two significant near-term accounting issues should raise investor concerns, and should also call into question whether SunPower has the proper accounting controls in place.”
* Gordon Johnson, Hapoalim Securities: “We believe this move implies further risk to management’s credibility, which, as we have written about before, remains a concern of ours with respect to incremental investment in SunPower,” he writes. Johnson maintains his Sell rating, adding that “at risk of stating the obvious, yesterday’s restatement strongly supports our thesis.”

SPWRA today is down $5, or 18.4%, to $22.23.

SunPower shares tumble as company investigates possible accounting errors

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 9:23 am

9:23 am EST, Tuesday November 17, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) tumbled in premarket trading Tuesday, following news that it is investigating whether its manufacturing operations in the Philippines made unsubstantiated accounting entries during the first three quarters of 2009.

The maker of solar power products said some of the entries relate to its fiscal year ended Dec. 28, 2008.

Shares fell $3.82, or 14 percent, to $22.90 ahead of Tuesday’s market open. The stock has ranged from $18.50 to $46.30 over the past year.

On Monday after the markets closed, the company said that based on preliminary findings, its audit committee has identified accounting entries that may have overstated expenses by about $1 million on the cost of goods sold in the first quarter of 2009. The entries also may have understated expenses by about $14 million in the second quarter and about $2 million in the third quarter of 2009.

SunPower estimated identified accounting entries totaling about $9 million in understatements should have been recorded in 2008. The company is working with its audit committee to determine if any restatements to its 2009 quarterly reports and 2008 annual results will be necessary.

The company noted that until its probe is complete, there can’t be any assurance that broader issues don’t exist.

“While accounting errors in any company’s financial statements are as welcome as the bubonic plague, SunPower’s early quantification of the adjustments indicates it may be manageable,” said Deutsche Bank analyst Steve O’Rourke, who maintained his “Buy” rating and $31 share price target.

O’Rourke also held to his outlook for the company, as he waits for a full-scope disclosure of the issues. He said the accounting errors call the company’s credibility more into question than its business model.

Collins Stewart analyst Dan Ries maintained a “Hold” rating for the company. He noted that SunPower’s cost of goods sold has been a key concern driving his rating for the solar company.

“If costs were being understated since calendar year 2008, our concerns would only grow,” Ries said in a report to clients.

November 16, 2009

SunPower Internal Review Identifies Unsubstantiated Accounting Entries

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:47 pm

4:47 pm EST, Monday November 16, 2009

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced that based upon an internal review of its Philippine manufacturing operations, the company believes there may have been unsubstantiated accounting entries made in the first three quarters of 2009, some of which relate to the company’s fiscal year ended December 28, 2008. Management informed the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of these entries and the Audit Committee immediately commenced an investigation of the matter, which is ongoing. The company’s Audit Committee and management have discussed these issues with the company’s independent auditors.

Based upon the preliminary findings of the ongoing investigation, the Audit Committee to date has identified accounting entries in the Philippines that may have overstated expenses in its cost of goods sold of approximately $1 million in the first quarter ending March 29, 2009, and understated expenses in its cost of goods sold of approximately $14 million in the second quarter ending June 28, 2009 and approximately $2 million in the third quarter ending September 27, 2009. The company previously reported 2009 quarterly revenues and operating income under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $213.8 million and a loss of $2.5 million, respectively, in the first quarter, $297.6 million and $9.9 million, respectively, in the second quarter and $466.3 million and $34.6 million, respectively, in the third quarter. Full-year 2008 revenues were reported of $1,434.9 million and GAAP operating income of $167.5 million.

If the preliminary investigation findings prove to be final, they could impact the company’s previously reported interim 2009 financial results. The company is also in the process of evaluating the financial impact of these adjustments on its previously reported results for the fiscal year and interim periods ended December 28, 2008. The company currently estimates that approximately $9 million of the identified accounting entries should have been recorded in 2008.

The company is working with the Audit Committee, the Committee’s outside experts, and with the company’s independent auditors to determine if any restatements of the 2009 interim financial reports and the 2008 annual report will be necessary. Until the investigation is complete and such a determination is made, there can be no assurance that broader issues do not exist. Therefore, the company’s previously issued interim financial statements for each of the 2009 quarterly periods, the previously reported financial results for the fiscal year ending December 28, 2008, the financial information in its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q for the 2009 quarters, the financial information in the 2008 annual report on Form 10-K, and the guidance provided by the company for the 2009 fiscal year, should no longer be relied upon. The company anticipates providing an update on the investigation within the next 30 days.

Operationally, the company’s outlook for the fourth quarter of 2009 remains consistent with its previous expectations for sales and operating income, subject to any costs, charges, and tax-related impacts relating to the ongoing investigation.

Solar Stocks Rally As Yingli Forecasts Stable Pricing

Filed under: CSIQ, ESLR, FSLR, LDK, SPWR, STP, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 3:37 pm

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Solar stocks are flying today after some bullish comments Friday on pricing in the solar sector by Yingli Green Energy (YGE) CFO Bryan Li on the company’s Q3 conference call on Friday. Li said he expects Q4 average solar products pricing to be flat to down slightly in Q4 from Q3, with flat to up pricing in Q1 of next year.

Merrill Lynch/Bank of America analyst Lu Yeung wrote in a Friday research note that the ASP forecast “bodes well for the broader industry group.”

Barclays Capital Vishal Shah likewise noted in a report today that the comments from YGE management suggest that “the price war in the solar industry may be temporarily over.” He added that while weather, Germain feed-in-tariff reductions and development of non-German markets will be important in how 2010 plays out, “YGE’s comments increase the prospects of potential upward earnings revisions for the sector in the near term.”

Janney Capital Markets analyst John Roy today upped his rating on on YGE to Buy from Neutral, “as the outlook for pricing and thus margins have improved.” He contends that “Yingli is a major price setter, and they are guiding to a more benign pricing environment in 2010.” He adds that “there is other evidence that prices are beginning to stabilize,” and that the trend should continue.

Ergo, most solar stocks are sharply higher:

* Suntech (STP) is up $1.75, or 12.8%, to $15.47.
* Sunpower (SPWRA) is up 63 cents, or 2.4%, to $27.05.
* Canadian Solar (CSIQ) is up 74 cents, or 4%, to $19.19.
* Yingli is up 54 cents, or 4%, to $13.99.
* First Solar (FSLR) is up $4.74, or 4%, to $123.04.
* Evergreen Solar (ESLR) is up 8 cents, or 5.4%, to $1.56.
* LDK Solar (LDK) is up 58 cents, or 9.1%, to $6.97.

Solar Leaders One Year Later

Filed under: CSIQ, ENER, FSLR, HOKU, SPWR, STP — Tags: , — Jason @ 11:02 am

From our entry November 13, 2008 in Time to start re-entering the leaders.

Company Entry Last $ G / L % G / L
CSIQ – Canadian Solar Inc. $    5.50 $   19.48 $   13.98 254%
ENER – Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. $   25.00 $   11.11 $  (13.89) -56%
FSLR – First Solar Inc. $ 110.00 $ 123.03 $   13.03 12%
HOKU – Hoku Scientific Inc. $    4.00 $    2.42 $   (1.58) -40%
SPWRA – SunPower Corp. $   25.00 $   27.09 $    2.09 8%
STP – Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. $   10.00 $   15.26 $    5.26 53%
Average Gain 39%

November 10, 2009

Thin-film share of solar market to double – report

Filed under: AMAT, FSLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 5:06 pm

Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:06pm EST

* Thin film to account for 31 pct of solar panels in 2013

* Technology had 14 pct market share in 2008

* Research says First Solar established market viability

LOS ANGELES, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Solar panels that use thin-film technology in place of traditional silicon-based materials will more than double their share of the solar panel market by 2013, according to a report issued on Tuesday by industry research firm iSuppli.

Thin-film panels, such as those made by First Solar Inc (FSLR), the largest U.S. solar power company, are cheaper to make per watt of electricity than are standard panels.

The average thin-film solar panel price is expected to decline nearly 18 percent in 2010 to $1.40 per watt, iSuppli said. Average prices for silicon-based panels are expected to drop 20 percent to $2.00 per watt in 2010.

Panels than employ thin-film technology are expected to claim 31 percent of the global solar panel market by 2013, up from 14 percent in 2008.

“The market viability of thin film has been solidly established by First Solar Inc as it rockets to become the world’s top solar panel maker this year, with more than a gigawatt of production,” said Greg Sheppard, chief research officer for iSuppli in a statement.

Most solar panels, like those made by Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) and California-based SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB), rely on polysilicon as a key raw material, while thin-film panel makers use a variety of different materials to turn sunlight into electricity.

Sheppard added that First Solar has driven its cost of production to less than 90 cents per watt, keeping its costs at about half the level of its competitors that use silicon-based technology.

Thin-film panels’ cost advantage has helped attract Japan’s Sharp Corp to expand into the thin film market. Solar equipment suppliers, such as Applied Materials Inc (AMAT) and Swiss technology group Oerlikon’s solar arm, are ramping up in thin-film space as well.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

SunPower Completes 1-Megawatt Solar Tracking System at UC Merced

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

System Expected to Produce 20 Percent of Campus Electricity Supply

8:00 am EST, Tuesday November 10, 2009

SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced the completion of a 1-megawatt solar power system on the University of California, Merced campus. The university expects the system, which SunPower will finance with Wells Fargo through a sale leaseback transaction, to produce two-thirds of the campus’ electricity on summer afternoons, and 20 percent of its annual electricity needs.

“The solar array project exemplifies UC Merced’s founding vision to become an international model for sustainable development and environmental stewardship,” said Mary Miller, vice chancellor for administration at UC Merced.

The system utilizes SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels on the market, with the SunPower T20 Tracker® system. The T20 Tracker follows the sun’s movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 30 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements.

“Colleges and universities in California are seizing the opportunity to help the state meet its growing energy demand and renewable energy goals,” said Bill Kelly, managing director, at SunPower. “UC Merced understands the significant return on investment that SunPower systems deliver, and the added value of working with an experienced partner.”

According to conversion formulas provided by The Climate Registry, the system is expected to remove more than 45 million pounds of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. That is equivalent to the emissions displaced from removing more than 3,600 cars from California’s roads. Under the terms of a long-term power purchase agreement, UC Merced will be entitled to the renewable energy credits and all environmental attributes associated with the system.

SunPower has more than 550 solar power systems in operation or under contract globally. Other California colleges and universities the company has built solar power systems for include California State-East Bay, Napa Valley College, Ohlone College, Mendocino College and the Los Angeles Community College District.

November 5, 2009

SunPower Jumps; Deutsche Bank Upgrades To Buy

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 1:10 pm

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) shares are getting a lift today from Deutsche Bank analyst Steve O’Rourke, who upped his rating on the stock to Buy from Hold, while increasing his price target to $31, from $28. The stock closed yesterday at $25.31.

O’Rourke writes in a research note that the upgrade reflects the stock’s attractive valuation, anticipated industry growth and the company’s market position. He notes that the bears think the company can’t match the Chinese solar companies on module manufacturing costs; O’Rourke concedes that this is largely true, but that that winning in the solar industry is about more than the cost of energy delivered. “We believe the company’s products, systems business and market strategy will enable the company to outgrow the market,” he writes.

SPWRA today is up $1.28, or 5.1%, to $26.59.

Evergreen Solar says has enough cash, shares up

Filed under: ESLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 11:45 am

Thu Nov 5, 2009 11:45am EST

* U.S. solar co expects to have $115 mln cash before end Q4

* Accelerates strategy to outsource work in China

* Shares up 1.4 pct at $1.44

LOS ANGELES, Nov 5 (Reuters) – U.S. solar company Evergreen Solar Inc (ESLR) has “significant” cash to meet its operating needs, the company’s chief financial officer said on Thursday on a conference call with investors, as the company’s shares rose slightly in trading.

The Marlboro, Massachusetts-based company posted better than expected revenue on Wednesday and said it ended the third quarter with $91 million in cash.

“As you can see, we have significant cash to meet our operating needs,” said Michael El-Hillow, the company’s CFO.

Like other solar companies such as SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP), Evergreen has been hit by a tumble in panel prices this year amid a lack of financing for new projects and a global oversupply.

Evergreen is accelerating its strategy to outsource solar work to China as the company, faced by stiff pricing competition from Chinese rivals, races to cut costs.

By the middle of 2010, the company will start moving panel assembly from its Devens, Massachusetts, plant to China, where it is building a 100 MW plant with Jiawei Solar. The company will continue to make wafers and cells in Devens.

The move is “evidence that the operation here (in the United States) is not being cost competitive,” said Cowen and Co analyst Rob Stone.

“It’s possible that market prices are going to keep moving down faster than they can bring their cost down, which will make it difficult for them to … make a positive margin,” said Stone, who has a “neutral” rating on the company.

Evergreen cut its manufacturing cost by 17 percent to $2.24 per watt in the third quarter and plans the shift to China will drive down costs another 35 cents.

Stone said saving seemed high and that it was “less clear” how much Evergreen will be able to maintain its pricing premium with the move to China.

At its current model, Evergreen sees that it can break even on cash-flow at $2 per watt.

Before the end of 2010, the company expects to have a cash balance of $115 million and to need $69 million through late next year for its factories in the United States and China and for other items.

The company is also seeking to increase the number of its authorized shares to 450 million from 250 million, a move El-Hillow called “prudent” to maximize its liquidity.

Shares of Evergreen were up 1.4 percent at $1.44 on Thursday in late morning trading on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Gunna Dickson)

October 29, 2009

Solar power execs bullish on 2010 despite earnings

Filed under: FSLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 7:36 pm

Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:36pm EDT

* Execs with Suntech, BP Solar, others see growth in 2010

* Driven by government aid, improved financial markets

* See fall in panel prices stabilizing

By Laura Isensee

ANAHEIM, California, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Executives from solar power companies see clearer skies in 2010 for the beleaguered industry, even as quarterly reports from heavyweights like First Solar Inc. (FSLR) and SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) have disappointed investors and dragged down shares.

The industry has struggled to emerge this year from tight credit markets, a global glut of panels and falling prices.

“I think we’re already in the middle of a turnaround. We’ve kind of gone through the low point of the recent past,” said Steven Chan, Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd’s (STP) chief strategy officer, in an interview with Reuters.

Executives from Sharp Corp, BP’s (BP) solar unit and other solar power players shared similar optimism about the sector’s outlook in 2010 at the Solar Power International conference being held in Anaheim, California, this week.

“Demand’s really good going into 2010. Visibility is a hell of a lot better than it was coming into 2009,” SunPower’s chief executive Tom Werner told reporters at the conference.

The industry, which grew at a clip of more than 40 percent for several years, has suffered in the recession, but solar companies kept a bullish attitude on growth next year.

Executives cited various forces that could drive growth in 2010, including U.S. stimulus funds for green projects, extended tax incentives and new financing.

(more…)

October 27, 2009

SunPower Announces the Most Powerful Solar Tracker for Power Plant Applications

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

SunPower T20 Tracker Evolution Delivers Maximum Energy with 128-cell, 400-Watt High Efficiency Solar Panel

8:00 am EDT, Tuesday October 27, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — At the Solar Power International 2009 conference today, SunPower Corporation (SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, launched the next generation of its SunPower® T20 Tracker (T20 Tracker). It is the most powerful solar tracker on the market today, incorporating SunPower’s high-efficiency 128-cell, 400-watt solar panels for maximum energy output.

SunPower’s newest T20 Tracker is a single axis, ground mounted tracker that follows the sun to deliver the highest system performance. It is pre-assembled for a fast, simple and scalable installation and offers customers a choice of design options to meet specific site needs. With fewer moving parts and refined mechanical structure, the T20 Tracker provides increased reliability, durability, less maintenance, and better wind resistance than conventional trackers. Each T20 Tracker unit generates up to 3.7 kilowatts of power and, by following the sun, delivers up to 30 percent more energy than a fixed tilt system of the same capacity.

“The superior design of the latest SunPower T20 Tracker evolves from our experience in deploying more than 200 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) tracking systems worldwide,” said Tom Werner, SunPower’s CEO. “This tracker is at the core of SunPower’s advanced PV power plant technologies which deliver the lowest levelized cost of energy for utility power plants today.”

This next generation T20 Tracker also features the new SunPower TMAC Advanced Tracker Controller (TMAC), the most innovative PV tracker control system on the market today. Its features include real-time tracker status updates, remote monitoring and control, proprietary energy production optimization algorithms, and superior reliability even in harsh environments. In addition, the TMAC enables power plant operators to wirelessly monitor the status of the T20 Tracker in real-time through the SunPower power plant SCADA control system, giving them the option to control the array from a central operations center.

SunPower will begin constructing power plant projects using the new T20 Tracker beginning in early 2010.

October 26, 2009

Solar Stocks Ready For A Big Move

Filed under: ENER, FSLR, SPWR, TAN, YGE — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:19 pm

Posted: Oct 26, 2009 16:19 PM by Joey Fundora

The solar stocks continue to be one of the more volatile groups in the markets. Traders often fear high levels of volatility, but if these are properly planned for, volatile stocks can offer outstanding trading opportunities. The solar stocks have been in a large range over the past year, and many of these stocks actually set their lows in November rather than March. This group has often been cited by the current administration as a focal point in helping to reduce the U.S. dependence on oil-rich countries, and while it has threatened to fall apart several times, it has continually found a floor.

This group is once again under pressure as a poor earnings report from SunPower Corporation (SPWRA, SPWRB) kicked off this earnings season, as the markets reacted poorly to the company’s guidance number. While this stock individually came under pressure, as a group there wasn’t major technical damage done. In looking at the Claymore/MAV Global Solar Energy Index ETF (TAN), which can be used as a proxy for the sector, you can see that TAN held up last week, despite the weak report by SPWRA. In looking at the chart, there is an interesting pattern developing. Overall, TAN remains in a trading range, but it was able to clear a descending wedge in September, and is currently trading in a small symmetrical triangle. Both of these patterns are simply consolidation patterns, but with TAN clearing the first to the upside, it may hint at a break to the upside from the second pattern as well. The descending trendline touching the last two price highs should be watched as a level of importance.

Source: StockCharts.com

The largest component in TAN is First Solar, Inc. (FSLR). With FSLR reporting on Wednesday, it could be the catalyst for a move in either direction for the group. The company’s last earnings report was met with steep selling, as FSLR pulled back from $176.05 to $112.09 in a few weeks’ time. FSLR did stabilize, and rallied back to a declining trendline, marking the tops of prior rally attempts. It recently cleared this trendline, and it continues to trade in a tighter consolidation leading into the earnings report. More than likely, FSLR will have a large move this week, but with earnings coming out, which direction it’s headed is anyone’s guess. However, this stock will likely impact the entire sector, so it is worth watching to help gauge the direction for the next quarter.

Source: StockCharts.com

Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ENER) is another solar that has been showing weakness for a few months, but recently cleared a declining trendline that halted recent rally attempts. It just cleared this area, and has been experiencing an uptick in volume. Earnings are not due until November, so this is a stock that could benefit from a positive FSLR report. A move above $13.62 could signal a test of $14.21 and possibly a test of the 200-day moving average near $16.

Source: StockCharts.com

Another stock worth watching is Yingli Green Energy (YGE). This stock has shown relative strength compared to its peers, and has been in a consolidation pattern for a few months. It’s currently looking a little weak, and is resting on its 50-day moving average, but if it can get back over $13.85 it could be ready for a test of the June high near $16.35.

Source: StockCharts.com

Bottom Line
The solar stocks could really go in either direction at this point, but they are worth watching with FSLR reporting this week. They often set the trend for this group, and there could be some great trading opportunities setting up. The levels noted in the charts above are starting points for watching the action objectively. Regardless of the headline news or numbers, the important thing to watch is what the stock price does moving forward. If any of these stocks starts to climb above key levels, there is a good chance they can experience a sharp rally. If they start to lose these levels, the opposite would hold true. With volatile groups like these, it’s worth watching regardless of which direction the move goes.

Solar: German Subsidy Update

Filed under: FSLR, SPWR — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 1:52 pm

By Tiernan Ray
barrons.com

Analysts this morning are parsing the fine print of a four-year coalition agreement ratified in Germany today that will likely have an impact on funding for solar technology projects, and on solar technology vendors such as First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB).

As Bloomberg notes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union pushed through measures for a $36 billion tax cut meant to spur economic growth, a compromise with more aggressive proposals. The measures relating to solar funding appear vague and thus open to widely differing interpretations.

The agreement does not call for immediate cuts in the so-called feed-in tariff for solar projects, subsidies that have helped boost German investment in the technology, writes Collins Stewart analyst Dan Ries. The agreement “highlights that the coalition is committed to solar and indicates that the government will pursue a dialog with the solar industry and community leaders to determine if the current subsidy is too generous.”

Ries is optimistic, writing that “we do not believe the outcome will be as harsh as the “enormous” one-time cut of perhaps 20-30% reported in the press.”

Hapoalim Securities analyst Gordon Johnson, on the other hand, believes cuts to subsidies won’t be “less severe,” as Ries and others believe. In fact, “we see this as confirmation that Merkel’s new coalition sees an immediate need to adjust current incentives for solar PV technologies,” he writes. “Furthermore, there was mention of focusing incremental ground based solar PV systems on “sealed” land – our discussions with contacts in Germany this morning suggest this could materially limit the sites new free-field solar projects in Germany can be placed.”

But as Johnson notes, it’s possible that a future limiting of subsidies will have a positive near-term impact on demand, causing projects to rush to use existing subsidies. But Johnson believes this will be small comfort given what he argues is an industry-wide glut of polysilicon (the raw material for many solar devices), solar wafers, and photovoltaic cells and modules, “we see acute risk of industry wide multiple compression on the horizon.”

The effects of the a potential tariff cut have already begun to be felt by some vendors. SunPower, for example, last Thursday offered a disappointing Q4 revenue outlook, which some analysts attributed to orders being pulled into last quarter from the current quarter, as projects scrambled to buy panels before tariffs run dry.

Sunpower shares today are down 90 cents, or 3%, at $27.45, while First Solar’s stock is up $2.51, or 1.7%, at $154.90.

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